Smartphones

How to side-load apps on your Android device

Donovan Colbert offers a how-to guide for backing up an application from one Android device and side-loading it onto another.

How to copy the .apk file from your source Android device to your target Android device

The backed up files will be stored on your microSD card. The path to this varies by device. On my Droid, the files are stored in mnt/sdcard/backups/apps.

I send my files from my source to my target Android device using Dropbox. I long-press on the file I want to transfer, then click “Send” in the dialog box that appears. (You may use other methods for transferring files, including removing the MicroSD card from the source and inserting it in the target device, or copying the files via USB to a PC. These instructions assume you are using the Dropbox method from here on out.)

In the next dialog window, I select “Dropbox.”

A window displays that allows me to select the Dropbox directory where I want to place the file. Here I have selected my “Public” folder.

Copy and install the .apk file on the target Android device.

About

Donovan Colbert has over 16 years of experience in the IT Industry. He's worked in help-desk, enterprise software support, systems administration and engineering, IT management, and is a regular contributor for TechRepublic. Currently, his profession...

8 comments
kdusang
kdusang

An easy way to do this is with freeware Android Injector for pc. (http://www.androidinjector.com) Android Injector allows users to install multiple apk files onto Android devices via USB cable effortlessly. Users need only connect their device to their pc using a USB cable, select some apk files, and click Install. The program then silently goes about installing the selected apps and lets you know when it's done. The new version makes this even easier by seamlessly integrating with Windows shell, allowing users to select any amount of apk files in Explorer, right-click, then click "Install with Android Injector" from the context menu. The program then opens with the files loaded, ready to be installed.

ecwinslow
ecwinslow

For example, I have a little Dart, which has limited space for packages (177MB) but a big enough microSD (2GB). I'd like to just keep less-used apps on SD and be able to quickly install as needed. Creating .apk's and installing on the fly from SD? (I haven't read the whole article yet... :-) =e

radleym
radleym

Since most Android devices suport USB, uSD, wifi and/or bluetooth, you can usually just copy the. apk file from one device to another, or from one device to your PC to another. Get a decent file manager for android that includes ftp and/or http hosting, or get one of the free ftp server apps from the market. A decent file manager will know to install the apk file on the destination machine. Of course you need root access ...

Regulus
Regulus

For all multiple page articles, we (I) need a one-click 'print-to-.doc' button. 4x copy-and-paste just isn't cutting it. i.e., 'You're wasting my Life'. Even a .pdf would help, but I really need a format that I can edit to for my own comments and local application. Please Note: This pertains to ALL Tech Republic articles. Thank You

dcolbert
dcolbert

That sounds like a great way to backup most of your device state for a clean install or other factory reset. Back up all of your .apks using something like Astro, move them to your PC, do what you need to do, then batch re-install all of the apps once you've finished. Wish I had know about this a few weeks ago.

dcolbert
dcolbert

But... not much has changed with side-loading. If your device supports it, and most Android devices do, what you suggest should be a piece of cake to achieve, and the general instructions in the article above should support you in doing that. In your case, you could easily install a program, back it up to .apk using Astro, then use Astro to copy the .apk from the backup folder on your internal memory to the external SD. Uninstall the app, and then later, when you need it, you'll just browse to the external SD using Astro, double-click the backed-up .apk, and it will re-install (this will also give you a portable library of .apk files from the Google Play store even when you don't have an internet connection). When I talk about examples of how Android users are more empowered than iOS users, this is one great example of that in action.

dcolbert
dcolbert

You could also use BUMP. There are any number of solutions. I've been personally leveraging Dropbox a LOT lately when I want to get something from one place to another - with the advantage that it is so well integrated into EVERY platform I use. Once I copy a file to Dropbox, it is easily available on my Windows machines, on my Android machines, on my iOS machines, on my OS X machines and on my Linux machines. It is easy to get to when I'm on someone ELSE's machine(s). So, Dropbox was my choice for the article mostly because, well - I like Dropbox. I felt like Dropbox would also be among the easiest methods for a neophyte to get their mind around. If you're familiar with these other methods you've described, the odds are you don't need an introductory "How to sideload Android apps" howto. At least, that was my thinking. I could be wrong. Although I don't understand why you would need root access for any of the methods you describe. Additionally, if you're going to root, you're probably WAY advanced from worrying about how to sideload apps. Can you root without sideloading, anyhow? I guess if you manually root? But most people out there doing roots are using a 1-click root method, I'd guess. Wait... are you saying the apps that allow you to host a server, like an FTP or Web server, on your Android device require root access? Sometimes the things that iOS allows that Android requires root access for make no sense to me. I've never looked at any of the server host apps for Android because - well, with the open OS, there isn't a lot of need for them, unlike with iOS. But the idea that you would need to root to do that on an Android seems counter-productive to me... kind of like requiring root to take a screenshot.

dcolbert
dcolbert

This seems to be one of my most consistently visited articles recently - I understand your frustration. I'll look into seeing if we can make this article available as a downloadable document.